The 2019 Cheez-It Bowl will feature a team from the Mountain West as well as the Pac-12. The Air Force Falcons will take on the Washington State Cougars. The teams can try and end their season with a win. Here is a preview and prediction of the 2019 Cheez-It Bowl.
Air Force Falcons (10-2)
Air Force had an impressive 10 win season this year. They beat another Pac-12 team in Colorado before losing to Boise State. Their only other loss came to a Navy team that finished the season ranked in the AP Poll. They got to double-digit wins by holding Wyoming to six points and no touchdowns in a 20-6 win.
Air Force can throw the ball more than Army or Navy, but they are still a run-heavy offense. Quarterback Donald Hammond III threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns against New Mexico. He only had 10 attempts, and completed nine of them. That gave him over 35 yards per completion that game. Having that ability can keep the defense on their toes. If the opposing defense commits to much to the run, the Falcons can take advantage of that.
Air Force ranks third in the FBS in rushing offense, behind just Navy and Army. They averaged a little under 300 rushing yards per game this season. The Falcons also totaled over 3,500 rushing yards on the season. They had three backs that surpassed 700 rushing yards this season in Kadin Remsberg, Timothy Jackson and Taven Birdow.
Air Force has also played some stingy defense this season. They rank 16th in the FBS in total defense. They held three teams to under 10 points. This includes seven points against a Utah State team that had potential first round pick Jordan Love at quarterback. Linebacker Demonte Meeks led the team in tackles with ESPN listing him at 97 on the season.
Washington State Cougars (6-6)
Washington State finished the regular season at .500. With a win, they can finish the season with a winning record. They started the season 3-0 before blowing a huge lead against UCLA to lose 67-63. The Cougars got their sixth win in a close one against Oregon State. They won that game 54-53 before losing to Washington in the Apple Cup 31-13 to finish at 6-6.
Unlike Air Force, Washington State is more of a passing offense. They rank first in the FBS in that category. Senior quarterback Anthony Gordon racked up over 5,000 passing yards on the season, the most in the FBS. If Air Force uses a lot of clock on offense, Gordon may be limited on passing attempts and will want to have efficient drives.
With the teams’ high amount of passing yards, it makes sense that this team ranks 129th in the FBS in rushing offense, with only the Akron Zips (0-12) behind them. Max Borghi was the workhorse in the backfield as he had 790 rushing yards, with the next best on the team being just 111 rushing yards.
Washington State ranks 113th in total defense. However, they are a higher 78th in rushing defense, which can be more helpful against a team like Air Force. They opened up the regular season by holding New Mexico State to just seven points. Later on, they limited Colorado to 10. A big help has been linebacker Jahad Woods, who leads the team in tackles with 121.
Just because Air Force runs the ball a lot doesn’t mean they can’t score a lot of points. The Falcons can also throw the ball. Washington State can also score a lot of points, typically getting a lot of yards through the air. Whoever has their style of offense working better can be the winner of this game.
Final Score Prediction: Air Force Falcons 38 Washington State Cougars 35
Feature Image Courtesy of Flipboard.